Is your family important to you? If something were to happen that put the lives of your loved ones in danger, how would you react? It’s not until something really happens that you realize just how important your family is to you and just what you would do to keep them safe.
I swear to you, this is all true.
Sunday night, I slept poorly. It was easily the worst night of sleep I’d had in months. I lay in bed, tired but wide awake, as if there were an energy in the air keeping me awake. I’ve had nights like that before, where my mind was furiously working through a problem that it just couldn’t let go of. That wasn’t the case two nights ago. I simply could not drift off to sleep, and I didn’t know why. I dozed in and out a few times, and finally went downstairs around two in the morning. My head had begun to ache and throb, so I went down for some little white pills and some water. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, aside from the fact that I should have been cycling into a REM sleep cycle. The house was silent.
After swallowing my two pills, I made my way through the dark house and up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Back in the bedroom, and under the covers, I settled in and hoped the sandman would visit.
And I lay there, eyes closed but still wide awake. Tired but alert. Again, I was hit with the feeling that there was something in the air, keeping me awake. Soon, I finally began drifting to sleep. Slowly. Just as I reached that in-between state, the state where we sometimes jerk ourselves awake with a subconscious body spasm, something terrifying happened. I heard somebody in our house. Specifically, I heard a door being shut. A door in my house. The one place where I have an expectation of safety for myself and for my family.
There was no thought. No wondering what I should do, or if I really heard what I know I did. The only thing that ran through my head was “my family.” The next few moments are burned into my memory as a strobe-effect; simply a series of images. The ceiling fan, as my eyes fly open. The bed sheets, in mid-flight, as I rip them away from me. My feet hitting the floor and me pushing off the bed. Delilah taking post at my heel. My hand closing on the door frame. In just one more moment, I will be down the stairs in two jumps, praying that I hit the light switch with my first attempt. Then, I don’t know, but I will protect my family.
In the instant before I pulled myself into the doorway, I remembered something crucial. Earlier this day, my little tyrant of a son learned how to open his own door.
I stepped around the corner to see him standing before me. Innocent. Relief – and fresh anger – swept over me. In the fog of near-sleep, Tyler’s newly acquired skill had been forgotten. Also forgotten was the fact that this was the third or fourth time tonight that he had gotten up. The two main differences were that he was much quieter before, and that Sarah got up those times to put him back to bed. On this particular instance, he opened the door and (I think) accidentally slammed it behind him.
In an angry whisper, I told him, “Get your butt back into bed, right now!” In my head, I added, Jesus Christ, boy, I almost killed you.
“Mommy,” he cried.
“Mommy is making her night nights. You get into your bed, now Tyler!”
As I tucked him in, and my heart slowed back into its normal rhythm, I kissed Tyler’s cheek. “It’s time to sleep, Tyler. You stay in this bed, okay?”
Tyler whispered, “yeah.”
“You do not get out of this bed again, and you do not open your door again, got it?”
Still in a whisper, “yeah.”
“I love you, buddy.”
I pulled his door shut, and tied a shirt sleeve around the knob, hoping to make it more difficult for Tyler to turn, should he disobey my orders. He didn’t, and he slept through the rest of the night, presumably in his bed.
Today, Sarah reversed the door knob so that we can lock him into his room. And, today, Tyler took an unheard-of three and a half hour nap.
We’re still smarter than you Tyler.